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A Role for Reasoning in a Dialogic Approach to Critical Thinking


We note the development of the widely employed but loosely defined construct of critical thinking from its earliest instantiations as a measure of individual ability to its current status, marked by efforts to better connect the construct to the socially-situated thinking demands of real life. Inquiry and argument are identified as key dimensions in a process-based account of critical thinking. Argument is identified as a social practice, rather than a strictly individual competency. Yet, new empirical evidence is presented documenting a role for individual reasoning competencies in supporting the effectiveness of argumentive discourse. A successful curriculum is described for employing extended engagement in dialogic argumentation as a pathway to development of individual argumentive skill.

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Correspondence to Deanna Kuhn.

Appendix: Dialogic Argumentation Assessments (from Kuhn et al. 2013)

Appendix: Dialogic Argumentation Assessments (from Kuhn et al. 2013)

Discourse Evaluation Assessment

Pat: Schools should do away with uniforms. They are a bad idea
Lee: I think students should have to wear uniforms because then they all look neat and orderly and it’s better for learning
Pat: Students get tired of wearing the same thing every day. They like to express themselves by looking different from one another. It shows their personality
Lee: They have other ways to make themselves look different besides clothing
Pat: Some families don’t have the money to buy uniforms
Lee: Schools usually have a fund for families who need help with school expenses

Discourse Construction Assessment

Ana Cruz and Maria Diaz are running for mayor of their troubled large city. Among the city’s problems are high housing costs, teen crime, traffic, school dropout, and unemployment. Chuck and Doug are TV commentators arguing about who is the better candidate. Write a script of what they might say. They are both experts on the city; they are both expert arguers and evenly matched. So your script should present the most well argued debate you can construct
Begin your script like this:
CHUCK: Cruz should be elected mayor because she’ll do better than Diaz
DOUG: I disagree, because xxxxxx
Then continue their argument, filling in what each one might say:
CHUCK: xxxxxx
DOUG: xxxxxxx
CHUCK: xxxxxx etc.
Here is some information about Cruz’ positions. She promises to:
 - create job training programs
 - expand city parks
 - raise teachers’ pay
 - open walk-in health clinics
 - reduce rents
 - impose a teen curfew
 - employ senior citizens in city schools
Here is some information about Diaz’ positions. She promises to:
 - improve public transportation
 - open more centers for senior citizens
 - revise the high school curriculum
 - build a new athletic stadium
 - improve health care
 - build more housing
(You are not required to include all these topics in your script.)

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Kuhn, D. A Role for Reasoning in a Dialogic Approach to Critical Thinking. Topoi 37, 121–128 (2018).

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  • Critical thinking
  • Argument
  • Curriculum
  • Assessment